|Subj:||IRS center shuts down after hazardous material scare|
|Date:||10/9/01 11:12:59 AM Pacific Daylight Time|
Updated 12:04 p.m.
IRS center shuts down after hazardous material scare
By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - A 3,500-employee IRS office in Covington is
under a full lockdown today, and hazardous materials experts
are investigating after workers reported a suspicious sticky
substance in an envelope that had been handled by several
Emergency workers brought one woman wearing a blue business
suit out of the building and began scrubbing her down in a
large black tub. After scrubbing her, they removed her
clothes, wrapped her twice plastic and took her to St.
Elizabeth's Hospital North for further decontamination and
Otherwise, no one was being allowed in or out of the
Cincinnati IRS Center on Fourth street, and fire department
hazmat teams were seen taking hoses into the building.
Officials placed the suspicious letter in a can, which was
placed in a police car and driven to a waiting Hamilton
County Sheriff's Office helicopter and flown away.
Chris Kerns, a spokesman for the IRS said the building,
which can have as many as 3,500 workers in offices and 188
children in its childcare facility, is in "standard
The center, which processed 20 million individual and
business tax returns from seven states, has had about 20
similar incidents in past 5 years.
But this lockdown, coming as the nation anticipates
retribution for the U.S. bombing of Taliban and terrorist
targets in Afghanistan comes only a day after six people
were hosed down by hazardous materials crews at a doctor's
office on Montgomery Road in Sycamore Township , following
delivery of a suspicious package Monday.
Local and national officials are scrambling to increase
stockpiles of medical tools to fight a potential biological
attack and one such incident seems to be unfolding in south
Federal officials suspect foul play rather than an
environmental source is at the root of two Florida anthrax
cases that have left one man dead and hundreds of co-workers
lining up for medical tests.
The FBI on Monday sealed off the Boca Raton offices of
American Media Inc., where both men worked, and agents
donned protective gear before going inside.
The IRS center can have up to 188 children in its childcare
center for employees. About 5,000 people are employed by the
IRS in Cincinnati, with about 3,500 working at the center.